Opel unions want Merkel to intervene
By Angelika Gruber
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Opel's top labor leader and board member, Klaus Franz, wants German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her foreign minister to intervene personally in stalled talks between Magna and General Motors and push for progress, he told Reuters on Friday.
Merkel and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the two main candidates in the upcoming general elections next month, would be in a unique position to pressure GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson into selling Opel to Magna since Germany would likely fund a deal with billions in aid.
"If there is no agreement by the middle of next week then I would like Merkel and Frank-Walter Steinmeier to request the presence of Fritz Henderson in Berlin," Franz said.
The meeting could serve to iron out the last remaining differences preventing a sale to Magna, he explained.
"I would certainly hope for a breakthrough," he said.
Franz, whose opposition to Fiat helped end the Italian carmaker's hopes to win a bid, has thrown his entire weight behind Magna while GM's negotiator John Smith has praised a rival bid by RHJ.
To make its bid more attractive to the German government, RHJ has offered to take only 3.6 billion euros in state aid should it win the bidding for Opel, down from an initial 3.8 billion euros, but wants to pay lower sales royalties to GM in return, a source with knowledge of RHJ's offer said.
Shop steward Franz, meanwhile, hopes GM recognizes that a badly needed restructuring of Opel can only work with his support and his fellow labor leaders who believe they can help the new owner trim 5.7 billion euros ($8.18 billion) in European structural costs through 2014. Continued...